22/12/2004
Press Release
SC/8277


Security Council

5106th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIRS OF COMMITTEES, WORKING GROUP


As the Security Council was briefed this morning by the heads of its committees and working group, it was reminded once again of the crucial and central role it played in a range of activities, from combating terrorism to preventing and resolving conflicts to implementing and monitoring sanctions.


All of today’s speakers represented countries whose two-year terms on the Council will expire at the end of this month.  Munir Akram (Pakistan), Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning Liberia, said his country’s term on the Council had coincided with momentous developments in international relations, in which the Council and the United Nations had been in the eye of the storm.  The international community had entered a new era in history, marked paradoxically by the asymmetry of power and the interdependence of nations.  While a new paradigm to manage global affairs in the new era had yet to be defined, the United Nations would have a central role in that paradigm.


He called the Council the “crown jewel” of the United Nations, entrusted with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and empowered to take enforcement action.  The essence of the Charter, however, was cooperative and not coercive multilateralism.  The Council’s scope of action extended from pre-conflict peacemaking to post-conflict pacification.  Noting the frequency of action taken under Chapter VII of the Charter, he said that where the Council and the United Nations fell short was in exploiting the possibilities contained in Chapter VI.  The Secretary-General, the Council and its subsidiary organs could play a much more active role in reconciling differences and settling disputes before they resulted in open conflict.


The Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1572 (2004) concerning Côte d’Ivoire, Gunter Pleuger (Germany), agreed that over the past two years the Council had gone through “troubled times”.  The Secretary-General was right when he talked about the “fork in the road” and the need to keep the United Nations relevant in the face of new threats and challenges.  It was necessary to work together, both inside and outside the Council, to implement the proposals contained in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, presented to the General Assembly on 2 December.  States had a common interest in strengthening the only global multilateral system that they had, as well as its most important organ.


Concerning the threat of terrorism, Heraldo Muñoz (Chile), Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and Associated Individuals and Entities, stressed the need for long-term cooperation with States wanting to strengthen their ability to combat terrorism.  The greatest security for a country was international cooperation, as no State was immune from terrorist threats.  The broad majority of countries understood that.  While the struggle against terrorism had made headway, the international community was far from winning the war.  It was necessary to redouble international efforts and understand that the world was not only facing a military challenge, but a political and ideological one.


Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins (Angola), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, a subject that occupied much of the Council’s attention, said that, during its historic meeting in Nairobi last month, the Council invited the Secretary-General to explore new means of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, especially taking into consideration the expanded mandate and the new organs of the African Union.  To that end, the Group could play a pivotal role in enhancing cooperation between the Council and the newly established Peace and Security Council of the African Union, bearing in mind that conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa must be a truly complementary effort by the Africans and their international partners.


The representative of Spain, the fifth Council member whose term expires this month, also spoke this morning.


The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at 11:15 a.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to hear briefings by the Chairmen of its Committees and Working Groups.


Briefings


ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, recalled that the Ad Hoc Working Group had issued a detailed interim report on its activities on 22 December 2003.  A final report had been sent to the President and would be circulated as a document of the Council.


Highlighting some of the points in that report, he said the Group had carried out actions aimed at examining regional and cross-conflict issues.  In that regard, the Group had held meetings on the Council missions to Africa, on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with special emphasis on the enhancement of the United Nations role.  The Group was pleased with the reinforced role of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  The holding of the first summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes represented an important step forward in meeting the concerns raised by the Group.


He said the Group had held a round table with the International Peace Academy on constraints, challenges and opportunities in resolving conflicts, during which participants had a useful exchange of views on the Sudan, Somalia, Guinea-Bissau and the Council’s role in preventing conflicts in Africa.  Under the theme devoted to the regional and international norms on unconstitutional regime changes in Africa, the participants had reflected on the Secretary-General’s proposal to consider how to deal with post-conflict situations in which governments, although democratically elected, defied constitutional order.


The Council had reiterated the importance of strengthening its cooperation and greater interaction with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constituted important elements in the long-term development of post-conflict societies and in the maintenance of peace.  The Security Council Ad Hoc Working Group and the ECOSOC Advisory Groups on Countries emerging from Conflicts, namely on Guinea-Bissau and Burundi, had been instrumental in materializing cooperation between the Council and ECOSOC.


In its historic meeting held in Nairobi last month, the Council had adopted a presidential statement on an institutional relationship with the African Union, he said.  In the statement, the Council had invited the Secretary-General to explore new means of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, especially taking into consideration the expanded mandate and the new organs of the African Union.  To that end, the Group could play a pivotal role in enhancing cooperation between the Council and the newly established Peace and Security Council of the African Union, bearing in mind that conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa must be a truly complementary effort by the Africans and their international partners.


As Angola ended its mandate in the Council and as Chairman of the Group, he hoped that it would continue to monitor the implementation of its recommendations and resolutions regarding conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.  Three years after its establishment, the Ad Hoc Working Group should reflect on how it could better implement its mandate effectively.  In that connection, the Group should continue to develop partnership with other institutions by involving non-Council members, and by making relevant recommendations to the Council resulting from those partnerships.  There was a need for reflection on the Ad Hoc Working Group’s future status within the Council, in order to meet the new trends in the search for solutions to the African conflicts, including cooperation with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.


HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile), Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and Associated Individuals and Entities, said that his experience over the past two years as chair of the Committee had been both a demanding and enriching experience.  He wanted to highlight the progress and challenges facing the Committee that must be addressed to enhance its work.  The Committee held 80 formal and informal meetings and its workload had remained constant.  In view of the fact that the main tool of the Committee was the Consolidated List, one of his major tasks had been to improve the qualitative and quantitative nature of that List.


He said that 88 individuals and 23 entities had been added to the List during the past two years, supplemented by more than 98 amendments.  Despite the progress made, much remained to be done.  The effectiveness of the List must be enhanced through cooperation on the part of Member States.  Names continued to be proposed to be included on the List, and he requested that information continue to be provided so that the quality of the List could be improved.  The report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, submitted recently to the General Assembly, contained a section on sanctions.  The sanctions against individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida were not traditional in nature.  Frequently, the subjects were elusive in nature and operated together with charity organizations.  A large number of them did not appear on the List.  Often those not listed were those that could carry out the most serious terrorist attacks.  The Committee had a process under way to remove people from list, known as “delisting”.


He added that visits to various States had been useful in observing sanctions and promoting dialogue among States.  He had visited 21 countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, during his tenure as Chair of the Committee.  Those visits were crucial in promoting dialogue and getting first-hand information on how sanctions were being implemented.  One of the most recurrent facts was the need for long-term cooperation with States wanting to strengthen their ability to combat terrorism.  The greatest security for a country was international cooperation, as no State was immune from terrorist threats.  The broad majority of countries understood that.  Also necessary was close cooperation with the committees established under resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004).  Cooperation should also be extended to other United Nations and international bodies.  He hoped the work begun between the Committee and the European Union and Interpol would continue in the future.


There must be a standing dialogue among cultures, he emphasized.  There should not be any culture shock when combating terrorism or the identification of terrorism with any one religion, culture or country.  Combating terrorism must also be done on the ideological plain.  He noted that youth in some countries found themselves with no opportunities and found in terrorist groups a sense of support and solidarity.  It was clear that the war in Iraq had attracted jihad fighters, who were using that country as a theatre of operations.  As long as the conflict there was prolonged, recruitment for Al-Qaida would flourish.  Persistence of the Middle East conflict also fuelled a sense of hatred and injustice.  Unless headway was made on the “Road Map” and peace was achieved between the Israelis and Palestinians, the perception of unequal treatment would grow in the Islamic world and be used by Al-Qaida for manipulation.


He noted that one of the greatest successes in sanctions had been the freezing of assets.  More than $135 million had been frozen throughout the world.  Many countries had established financial intelligence units.  Since Al-Qaida was finding new ways to finance its activities, it was essential for the Committee to observe alternative means of sending remittances.  He also noted that the travel ban had a dissuasive effect on the individuals on the Consolidated List.  The preventive nature of that measure had been important and should be improved.  The arms embargo had also proven effective.  Al-Qaida did not have access to small or light weapons or dual-use materials.  An international instrument was needed to identify small and light weapons.


There were clear distinctions in implementing sanctions, he added.  Some States had the capacity, but had not indicated in their reports to what extent they had implemented the sanctions.  The focus of the Committee had moved from preparing reports on sanctions to active dialogue with Member States.  While the struggle against terrorism had made headway, the international community was far from winning.  It was necessary to redouble international efforts and understand that the world was not only facing a military challenge, but a political and ideological one.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning Liberia, said the Committee’s work could be divided into two periods, namely January to December 2003 as the 1433 Committee, and December 2003 to the present as the successor 1521 Committee.  The first period had been marked by ongoing civil war and violations of sanctions.  The second period had been marked by an improvement in the situation, as Liberia underwent a transition from conflict to peace-building.  The Committee had agreed to adopt a differentiated approach in the continuation of sanctions.  The Committee had had to rely on the Panel of Experts in the absence of a reporting mechanism by Member States.  The guidelines for its work had not been approved since its establishment in 2001.


As Chairman, his first priority had been to maintain transparency in the Committee’s work, he said.  In his view, in implementing measures under Chapter VII, the focus must remain on the initial objectives that had led to implementation.  The goal posts for sanctions must not be moved in mid-course.  Sanctions needed a cost-benefit analysis and their socio-economic and humanitarian impact must be regularly assessed.  There was also a need to promote coordination and policies with regional and subregional organizations.  The lifting of sanctions should be based on political judgment rather than technical requirements.  In transitional situations, ways must be found to remove the stigma of sanctions.


As Pakistan completed its two-year term on the Council, he said it had been a singular privilege for his delegation to serve on the Council.  Pakistan’s term had coincided with momentous developments in international relations, in which the Council and the United Nations had been in the eye of the storm.  The international community had entered a new era in history, marked paradoxically by the asymmetry of power and the interdependence of nations.  While a new paradigm to manage global affairs in the new era had yet to be defined, the United Nations would have a central role in that paradigm.


The Security Council was the crown jewel of the United Nations, entrusted with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and empowered to take enforcement action.  The essence of the Charter, however, was cooperative and not coercive multilateralism.  The Council’s scope of action extended from pre-conflict peacemaking to post-conflict pacification.  Where the Council and the United Nations fell short was in exploiting the possibilities contained in the Chapter VI of the Charter.  The Secretary-General, the Council and its subsidiary organs could play a much more active role in reconciling differences and settling disputes before they resulted in open conflict.


He said the special debate on the pacific settlement of disputes in May 2003 had identified a number of proposals that needed to be promoted, he said.  Over the recent past, the Council had been too quick to evoke its authority under Chapter VII.  The provisions of Article 41 had been used with increasing frequency to impose sanctions and punish recalcitrant regimes and warring parties.  The negative consequences of such measures had yet to be fully evaluated.  There was, moreover, a visible impatience on the part of some, once Chapter VII was evoked, to move rapidly towards the application of Article 42 and to threaten enforcement action.  The space between Articles 41 and 42 was not always fully explored, including in some celebrated cases, to achieve the international community’s objectives without the recourse to the use of force.


One consequence of the proclivity to punish was that major threats to international peace and security were prevented from being substantially addressed in the Council by one or the other Permanent Members, he said.  While the Council expended most of its time in managing internal conflicts, and in worrying about putative threats by terrorism, the real threats to global security were being addressed through arrangements outside of the Council.  It was as if the real threats to peace and security were too important to be entrusted to the Council.  Since Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, the Council had not taken enforcement action against States that resorted to the use of force against other States.  United Nations peacekeeping operations had emerged as the principle instrument of enforcement action.


The nature of peacekeeping, he continued, had changed from simple operations to complex duties.  In short, the United Nations was now in the business of nation-building.  The oversight of nation-building consumed half of the Council’s time.  Diffusing its focus from more existential threats to peace and security, there were considerable shortfalls in the resources required to build sustainable security.  Many of the complex crises should be entrusted to mechanisms involving other major United Nations organs, so that comprehensive action could be taken.


He said the Council’s preoccupation with intra-State conflict had been conceptualized in response to the need to protect populations at risk in failed States.  The question of when such responsibility commenced had to be asked.  Once the State was on the verge of collapse, or before?  International responsibility to protect could only become legitimate if it flowed from the right to development of all peoples, including fair terms of trade, debt relief and access to technology.  Humanitarian interventions evoked to protect civilians could come to be perceived as the birth of an era of colonialism.  It would be wiser to devote resources to a pre-emptive strike against poverty and underdevelopment.


Regarding terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, he said that after 9/11, the adoption of resolution 1373 creating the Counter-Terrorism Committee had been a necessary response.  But if the Committee were to be effective, its scope of action must be broadened to address the root causes of terrorism.  The Council had adopted resolution 1540 as a stop-gap measure to prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.  A comprehensive strategy could not be achieved by the Council alone.  The Council could be made more efficient.  Due to the unequal power enjoyed by five of its permanent members, the Council was structurally constrained.  Transparency and accountability were prerequisites for improving the Council’s work.  Closed consultations should be the exception.  The election of non-permanent members was also an instrument for ensuring accountability.


Concluding, he said Pakistan had often been obliged to temper its idealism in the face of power realities.  The world needed a Council that did not mirror power realities, but that was a force for fairness and justice.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1572 (2004) concerning Côte d’Ivoire, said that that Committee had been established only two weeks ago.  It held its first formal meeting on 6 December and an informal meeting on 16 December.  On 17 December, it had informed Member States of the measures taken, the embargo imposed since 15 November and the measures that subsequently came into effect.  It was also in the process of preparing a list of individuals and entities subjected to those measures.  In carrying out its work, the Committee was taking into account the current mediation efforts undertaken by the African Union.


Since Germany’s term on the Council expires this month, he thanked all colleagues for their cooperation and support.  He agreed with Ambassador Akram of Pakistan that over the past two years, the Council had gone through “troubled times”.  The Secretary-General was right when he talked about the “fork in the road” and the need to keep the United Nations relevant in the face of new threats and challenges.  It was necessary to work together, both inside and outside the Council, to implement the proposals contained in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.  States had a common interest in strengthening the only global multilateral system that they had, as well as its most important organ.


He added that it was necessary to ensure that the Council gained in effectiveness, legitimacy and transparency, to make its decisions more acceptable and implementable.  He hoped Member States in the General Assembly would find political will and meet their responsibility to increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of the Council.


JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) noted that the previous speakers were four of the five non-permanent members who would be leaving the Council at the end of this month.  Spain was the fifth and, therefore, he wanted to say how pleased his delegation was to work side by side with other Council members.  He thanked all for their cooperation and reminded them that there was “life beyond the Council”.  Spain stood ready to cooperate in revitalizing the Council and the United Nations.


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